Bloom day

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Dwarf shasta daisy.

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Rainbow chard glowing in the evening light.

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Coreopsis ( of the domesticated variety).

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I cut back my salvia after it bloomed and got a repeat performance!

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Russian Sage with my constant companion, the grasshopper (or cricket? I don’t know. This is why I am getting a guide book from the library).

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Zinnia! I was initially disappointed in my zinnias because all of the smaller flowers blossomed first. But now that these big bright flowers have bloomed I know I will definitely grow zinnias again next year.

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This is actually a dahlia, not a zinnia. I grew it from seed and I am pretty excited about how successful growing dahlias from seeds was. Also a bug. Have I ever mentioned that there are a lot of bugs at my house?

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Alyssum.

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Odds and Ends

Here are some strange mushrooms that appeared overnight in our gravel driveway last month during our week of rain. They have held up surprisingly well through our hot weather and are just starting to shrivel. They look a lot like puffballs!

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Here is what my salads have been looking like. I really need to finish off the greens I have before they become bitter and start sowing a new round of lettuce leaves in a week or so.

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I have been doing fiber crafts for all that it has been GARDEN GARDEN GARDEN around here. I have been spinning my “Shooting Yarn” polwarth roving while participating in Tour De Fleece, a spinning event that occurs every year at the same time as the Tour De France and involves spinners¬† (of wool and other fibery goodness) trying to spin as much as they can during the time of the Tour. It is a lot of fun, mostly because of the internet camaraderie on Ravelry and the many many gorgeous pictures people post of their yarn.¬† I’ve been doing other spinning too and will try to get some pictures of it so I can put it up here.

Bulbils

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Bulbils, the small buds on the tips of the onion leaves have not only formed, they are beginning to flower!

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The bulbils send out shoots, their weight causing the onion stalks to bend.

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Soon the bulbils will reach the dirt, root and form new onions.

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I’ve got to start figuring out recipes to use these onions in or otherwise I’ll soon have a garden full of nothing else!

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Potted and Planted

I thought that this year I would have fewer pots on the deck as I would be able to put more of the plants in the ground. I did remove more than several pots in the pursuit of making my garden, but somehow the quantity seems completely unchanged! I do have to fess up and admit that I bought the black pot in the photo below specifically for the plant growing out of it (Well the one with the dramatic leaf anyway). It is a canna lily! I wanted to keep it safe from the voles and make it a dramatic statement that I’d enjoy every day on my way in and out of the house.

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This plant showed no sign of life for weeks. I was beginning to feel extremely nervous when finally after a bout of rain it shot up more than 4 inches over night. Definitely a tropical plant!

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Below is a pot full of celosias and a cigar plant (which is a tender perennial). I had hoped that the cigar plant would lure hummingbirds to the deck, but they don’t seem very interested. To be fair to the plant, though, the hummingbirds have been making themselves scarce for a while now.

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Below are Nicotiana alata plants, which I also hoped would draw hummingbirds.

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I am also growing lettuce on the deck (while I still can! Lettuce bolts when it gets hot) as I find the reminder of walking by it helpful in actually getting the lettuce to plate.

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These are fewer than a quarter of the pots I have on the deck. Perhaps I will show you more later!

Irrigation and flowers

One of the facts of country life is well water. The city and the county don’t run water out to us. We supply it ourselves from ground water. Unfortunately for us, the people who lived here before us bought a very small water tank which means that in the summer time we can run through it faster than the well can fill it up, a situation that can result in well burnout, dirt in your water and other bad things.

In my quest to keep the garden hydrated I have installed drip irrigation and begun filling milk jugs with water whenever I thought we had some water to spare. Luke thought up a brilliant plan to pump water out of the three drums shown below and I use that to water the parts of the garden that don’t have drip irrigation running to them.

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Together these three provide around 165 gallons of water and each barrel can be filled up in about a day (done at a slow drip so that the tank can refill as we pour water into the barrels. The pump was a necessary installment because gravity does not provide enough pressure. Gravity might be enough if we built the barrels a platform to stand on, but the garden is long and we didn’t want to risk it.

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The water comes from our faucet through this 5 gallon bucket where it then drains into the barrels (as long as the bucket is higher than the water levels in the barrels otherwise the water in the barrels drains into the bucket). It is not exactly a pretty looking system in my garden, but it is helping my plants to thrive and for that I am grateful.

Now on to what is of interest in the garden right now!

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My Veronica ‘Royal Candles’ is in bloom.

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Evening primrose (Oenethra). I love the freckles on the bud.

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Tomatoes! I already have green fruit! Now it is a race to see who ripens first!

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I planted a series of bare root shrubs I bought at the Lawyers Nursery sale earlier in year. I bought two spirea, one dwarf and one larger. This is the larger one. I planted all three of them outside the confines of my garden as the largest will get anywhere 4-6 ft wide and 6-8 ft tall. I dug the grass away from their planting spots and then dug holes, planted the root stock, covered them with weed cloth to slow the return of the grass and then piled bark on top to hold the cloth in place and make it harder for weeds to break through.

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This is the dwarf spirea ‘Froebelli” I think.

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And this is the Weigela French Lace. It has gorgeous foliage and will have deep magenta flowers. I can’t wait to see how these guys come along and I have my finger’s crossed that the voles won’t eat their roots out over the winter. I spent about $4 on each, so if they do it won’t be a huge loss. I will just be sad.

Salad Quest

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I have been trying to eat more salad lately (Haven’t we all?) and to encourage myself in this quest I have been trying to sow lettuce seeds of all types continuously because not only is home ground salad far more delicious than store bought I am far more likely to eat it more regularly because I cannot stand to waste something that I grew. I placed much of the lettuce in pots on the deck because for a while when I sowed them, the garden beds weren’t ready and then after that because I felt that if I had them in pots on and near the deck I would see them more often thus reminding me that I should eat them. It has been working rather well thus far.

I have a variety of leaf lettuces and my favorite buttercrunch. I have also sown some mesclun mixes so I would have some stuff to spice up the plate. I pick the lettuce, wash it and then spin it dry. When ever I use my lettuce spinner ( A charming XOX brand one with a pump on top that converts up and down energy into round and round energy to my unending delight) it reminds me of my mother. When I was little she used to let me help her dry the lettuce by turning the crank on the top of her yellow and white lettuce spinner. Even then, I thought centrifugal force was the coolest thing!

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Here the lettuce is before it got spun. I threw in the last small spinach leaves (they were bolting). The larger leaves are the butter crunch.

And here is where the picture of the salad is not. Because I ate it and didn’t take a picture. No worries though. I still have plenty of lettuce left. There will be more chances to take pictures. Besides my salad didn’t look much different from this above. I squirt lemon juice on the greens, shave some parmesan onto the salad using a carrot peeler and then I eat it. Delicious!

Wild flowers

Across the road from our house, there is a woodlands. I don’t know who lives there-if anyone lives there. The deer hide between the trees, moving through the shade. It is a refuge of many creatures I suspect. And it is the home of many wildflowers.

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These are our native lupins. Much smaller than the huge hybrid ones that are sold in the stores, but far less likely to succumb to aphids.

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They are beautiful in their petiteness.

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They make up a delicate purple haze that colors the grass.

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Much more bold, like lion manes, are the coreopsis-sunny and bright.

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I love being able to see this place change over the seasons and I look forward to seeing what other wildflowers spring from the ground.

Frog Frog!

We have had a lot of rain recently. I felt a bit of whiplash from going from frantically running around watering wilted plants as soon as I got home from work to having to empty out pots so that my plants don’t drown (some of my pots don’t have drainage holes). Today I finally got around to lifting out the insert in this pot and discovered that I had visitors!

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Tree frogs! We have a population of them that like to live under the deck and sometimes come out to take advantage of the moisture when I water the plants. This is the boldest I’ve ever seen them (probably because of all of the water.

 

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Our second friend was green. Luke and I love the tree frogs here. Besides the fact that they are adorable, they sing in the night around our house, filling our bedroom with music on hot summer nights and they keep down the mosquito population. I’d like to encourage them to be happy here. Seeing their enthusiasm for the my pots I am starting to think about buying a pot without a hole in it and putting in water and some semi-aquatic plants and see what happens. If the frogs take an interest (which I think they will) then we shouldn’t have any problems with mosquito growth.

 

Does anyone have an experience with building amphibian habitats?

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